Apparently once every quarter century or so the NBA will admit to a major on-court problem that requires a do-over.
Friday, for the first time since David Stern became commissioner in 1984, the NBA announced that a Miami Heat protest was upheld and the final 51.9 seconds of their game at Atlanta previously completed on Dec. 19 will be replayed on March 8.
That final minute with Shaquille O'Neal on the court with five fouls instead of on the bench with six will be played just prior to a previously scheduled game. The Heat will have the ball but will trail 114-111. In the meantime, a win was taken away from the Hawks in the standings, while the Heat at least for the time being now has one fewer loss during their miserable season.
The previous time a protest had been upheld was in 1982.
Clearly Stern did the right thing in this case. O'Neal had only been called for five fouls, but the Hawks' stat keepers mistakenly had him down for six. The NBA commish ruled Atlanta was "grossly negligent" in failing to address the mistake and fined the franchise $50,000 as well.
While it will be the first do-over in a game in 26 years, Stern showed he was willing to try to make things right just a year ago. After introducing a synthetic basketball to much fanfare at the open of the 2006-07 season, the commish gave in to the complaints of the players who much preferred real leather. The league went back to "cowhide globes" in the middle of last season.
The concept of getting a "do-over" is a good thing. Who doesn't want a mulligan every now and then? Unfortunately, you can't always get another crack to see how things would turn out differently. And even if you could, would that really be a good thing?
The Jazz, of course, would love to know what would have happened in the 1997 NBA finals Game 6 had it not been for a "grossly negligent" call by veteran referee Dick Bavetta. He took away a 3-pointer by Howard Eisley during the Jazz's loss, saying the bucket came after the shot clock had expired. Replays showed that clearly was not the case.
Of course, it may not have mattered. Michael Jordan, who hit the game-winner over Bryon Russell, may have found a way to carry the Bulls to the victory anyway.
Besides, Jordan's steal, push-off and shot quieting the Utah fans is a priceless NBA moment that may never have happened had Bavetta not blown it earlier.
Player acquisitions are where many NBA franchises could use some do-overs. With the help of 20-20 hindsight there are always guys who get drafted too early or too late.
Some local media members still love to point out that Tony Parker was available when the Jazz selected Raul Lopez in the first round of the 2001 draft. But, Lopez actually had better credentials than Parker at the time and the Jazz couldn't have known that Lopez would be so injury-prone and an NBA bust.
Besides, had Utah selected Parker, there is virtually no chance they would have emerging star Deron Williams on the roster right now. Having Parker may have helped the Jazz in the short run certainly more than Lopez but would the Jazz trade Williams for Parker right now?Do-overs, in theory, seem like a good thing, but the NBA has it right in keeping them to a minimum.